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Villa and Zapata – A History of the Mexican Revolution, Part 3: the Civil War and its aftermath

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The Mexican Revolution, or what was in reality their civil war, is an extremely complex series of events that is practically impossible to adequately discuss in just one article. Between 1910 and 1920, a multitude of events evolved that shook the Mexican nation to its very core. More plans were written about the constitutional future of Mexico than at any other point in its history.

Beginning with Francisco I. Madero's Plan de San Luis Potosi, followed by Emiliano Zapata's Plan de Ayala, Venustiano Carranza's Plan of Guadalupe, and finally Alvaro Obregón's Plan of Agua Prieta, it seemed that a new vision for Mexico was being created every six months or so. McLynn doesn't do justice to these different concepts, however, and winds up giving a mere thumbnail sketch to these very important documents that were written with every intention of a later implementation.

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The fact that so many were written is a testament to the ever changing landscape of political and social reality in Mexico, not just the surreal and superficial desire of these men to put pen to paper for the enjoyment of future history classes. These plans were meant to sell their authors' vision of a new Mexico, one that would adhere to their ideologies and interests. They were used to recruit armies, garner national support, and create a movement with the author at the helm.

The Mexico of 1910 was a volatile, uneasy country which was ready to explode at the slightest spark of rebellion. President Porfirio Diaz, who had ruled the country like a dictator for over 30 years, was growing old and losing his grip on power. Over the previous decade or so, he had been giving local oligarchs more and more power to rule their regions via the their personal governmental puppets. The great majority of Mexicans were losing not just their land and their livelihoods, but also their patience with the federal government.

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McLynn does a good job of explaining the discontent that was gripping the nation at this time and how the spark of rebellion, conveniently provided by Francisco I. Madero, was the straw that broke the camel's back. He wonderfully exposes the backgrounds of both Villa and Zapata prior to Madero's intervention and how these two became so prominent so fast. It is important to note, as he does well here, that Villa and Zapata were thorns in the side of Diaz's government prior to Madero's Plan de San Luis Potosi and that Madero only convinces Villa to join him. Zapata was never on his side.

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60 year old Californian male - I've lived in four different countries, USA, Switzerland, Mexico, Venezuela - speak three languages fluently, English, French, Spanish - part-time journalist for Empower-Sport Magazine. I also write four (more...)

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